The veterans of Veterans for Peace Los Angeles and their volunteer supporters seek people to join them at the Arlington West Memorial in Santa Monica, California.  The memorial is an all day event held every Sunday.

Everyone supporting peace – both peace groups and individuals – are welcome to come and spend time at the memorial as long as they wish, bringing their messages of peace and interacting with the thousands of visitors there during the summer. 

One does not have to be a veteran to be a part of the memorial experience.  Shade, chairs, lunch, water &  juice, and camaraderie are provided for free to all memorial volunteers by the veterans.

Volunteer Activities – This Arlington West Memorial is created every Sunday at the ocean’s edge on Santa Monica Beach, immediately adjacent to and north of the Santa Monica Pier.  The memorial is a weekly installation project of Veterans for Peace Los Angeles.  Its purpose is to remember those military service members who have died in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq and to illustrate the human cost of war. 

There are many different ways people can help out at the memorial. Folks of all ages are welcome to participate.  Parents or guardians should accompany children.  Activities that memorial volunteers can engage in every Sunday during the summer include:

·Before 10:00 am – help set up the memorial’s crosses

·From 10:00 am to 4:00 pm – straighten up crosses, upkeep the memorial, and talk to the public

·Between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm – pick up the memorial’s crosses

At special times of the year around select holidays the veterans hold candlelight vigils at the memorial.  During this activity candles & their covers are placed at every other cross and then lit in remembrance of the fallen.  This activity is especially reverential and touching.

Peace Groups Welcome – Kenny White has been a volunteer at the memorial since March 18, 2007.  He said the memorial seeks more people power to support its operations.  In particular, peace groups are welcome to come and set up a table in their outreach to the public on the beach.

White said that being at the memorial is a great opportunity to interact with the public.  The pier is a major Southern California tourist destination for people from all over Los Angeles and all over the world.  He said that in addition to providing help at the memorial, peace groups will have the unique opportunity to interact with this broad spectrum of people.

White said outreach at the beach enables peace groups to gain appreciation of the public’s approach to and understanding of the subject of peace.  He added the vets hope such groups will provide a copy of the literature that they will be distributing from the memorial to the veterans.

Special Upcoming Memorial Events – Memorial events this July include an overnight memorial presence bringing public awareness to USA relationships with Venezuela and Iran. Veterans for Peaceis presenting their concerns that instead of engaging in diplomacy, the US government is threatening these two countries with active destabilization and possible military invasion.  White quoted a KPFK commentator, stating “Saudi Arabia will fight Iran down to the last US soldier.  When will we wake up?” 

For this special presentation and in conjunction with Independence Day, the memorial will be set up the morning of Saturday, July 6th, 2019, hold a candlelight vigil that evening, and remain up overnight to be taken down the following Sunday evening, July 7th .

Two weeks after this special outreach, the veterans will be hosting a “Drop the MIC” (Military Industrial Complex) event at the Arlington West Santa Monica Memorial on Sunday, July 21st, 2019.  The activities during this public outreach event will include silk screening and a picnic, These events are sponsored by the organizations that include About Face (formerly Iraq Veterans Against the War), Veterans For Peace, Ground Game, and A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition. For more information about this campaign visit https://aboutfaceveterans.org/drop-the-mic-campaign/

Background on Arlington West  -Veterans For Peace is a national, non-profit US veterans organization with about 140 chapters across the USA & around the world that is seeking to abolish war.   The Arlington West Memorial in Santa Monica has been set up and taken down every Sunday by the LA Chapter without missing a single Sunday since February 15th, 2004 – over 15 years to date.  The memorial seeks to educate the public about the reality of militarism and war.

The Arlington West Memorial Santa Monica is one of five memorials erected by Veterans for Peacechapters on the west coast, and it is the only one that is still set up on a weekly basis.  The other memorials are set up periodically around Tacoma/Seattle, Santa Barbara, Huntington Beach and close to Camp Pendleton near San Diego.

In the past, the Arlington West Memorial Santa Monica has received a commendation from the City of Santa Monica, a regional “Salt of the Earth” award from Radio Station KPFK (one of 5 Pacifica Radio Network stations with hundreds of affiliates), and a national award from the national office of Veterans for Peace in St. Louis, Missouri.

Getting to the Memorial – TheMetro Expo Line goes directly to the Santa Monica Pier regularly during

Sundays, arriving at the Colorado Street station – about four long blocks walking distance from the beach and memorial.  The Metrolink’s website notes “Metrolink’s $10 Weekend Day Pass can be used on Sundays or Saturdays for unlimited rides systemwide.  Metrolink train tickets can be purchased via the Metrolink App or at Metrolink stations. Tickets purchased will allow for a free transfer to Metro Rail by scanning the mobile ticket at the gates.”

Costs for all day parking varies.  On Sundays parking is available on Santa Monica streets, and it is often free for many street meters (generally Sundays are treated as holidays as far as metered parking goes in much of Santa Monica) that are five blocks east or more from Ocean Blvd (noton Ocean Blvd. itself).  Be sure to check meter signs and exercise care, as parking regulations vary from street to street and parking fines are expensive.

Parking for cars is also available at several other locations. The most convenient of these locations to the memorial include the Santa Monica Beach parking lot or on the Santa Monica Pier Parking Deck itself.  During summer months, day-long car parking fees can be a much as $15 for the entire day. 

In all cases, parking availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.  Very early arrival is always recommended. 

The pier address is 1550 Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA 90401 (or go to the pier bridge off Ocean Blvd. at Colorado).  For more information on travel to and parking options, you can go online the websites and visit:   https://www.metrolinktrains.com/destinations/santa-monica/  or https://www.pacpark.com/parking-at-the-santa-monica-pier/  .

Contact the Vets at Arlington West –Peace groups are encouraged to contact White by email to let VFP-LA know of their intent to drop by the memorial on specific days.  He can also be reached to answer any questions at the email address:  kwhitebama12@yahoo.com. 

For more information about the Arlington West Memorial Santa Monica, please visit the memorial website: http://www.arlingtonwestsantamonica.org.  For details about the Los Angeles chapter of Veterans for Peace, please visit their Facebook page: Security Check Required.  The Veterans for Peace national office can be reached through  https://www.veteransforpeace.org

By Greg Foisie (CSULA student & memorial volunteer)

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